Higher education recruiting has never been more competitive. An increasing number of colleges and universities compete for a decreasing number of high school graduates. Simply going to a few college fairs, and sending brochures to SAT test takers, is no longer enough.
Today's potential student is more tech-savvy than ever before. To make an impression, admissions offices need to keep pace. Only the right higher ed recruiting tools can help in that regard.
Finding those tactics, of course, can be challenging. There's a seemingly endless supply of technology, all of which promising to be the 'next big thing' in your efforts to reach prospective students and their parents. Some, though, are more crucial than others. Here are 7 higher ed recruitment tools to recommend to your campus VP of Marketing or Director of Admissions today.
1) Online Chat for Real-Time Engagement
The mobile devices we love so much, coupled with our desire to do research online, have provided opportunities for real-time, online chats with representatives of the websites we visit. While the technology is relatively new to most, today's students have grown up with this kind of web-based interaction.
These students actively use it to get immediate answers to their questions instead of writing letters or calling for further information. Integrating an online chat system means being able to offer real-time help to relevant questions and concerns.
Your university's chat system should be easily available on your recruiting websites. They can be staffed during normal business hours or supplemented by chatbots who can answer common queries on a more automated basis.
2) Interactive Map for an Engaging Campus Experience
The campus map has come a long way since being a simple print-out for admissions tours. Today's alternatives are digital, interactive, and more effective in helping your campus visitors find the exact spots they need to get to.
An interactive map is web-based, and can be customized to show anything from a relevant building to parking information. Users can get more information with a simple push of a button, or request driving directions through GPS integration.
The right map also allows you to integrate virtual tours. These tours, can highlight both the elements that differentiate your campus from other universities, and highlight areas of specific interest to high school juniors and seniors as well as other audience groups. Potential focus areas can include academic programs, residence hall tours, athletics, campus art, history and more.
3) A Modern, Responsive Social Media Presence
In today's recruiting environment, your university needs more than a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Snapchat and Instagram are now the preferred social media networks among teenagers, while gaining popularity among older audiences. A presence on each is crucial to reach potential students where they spend your time.
Successful social media marketing also means engaging in social listening, or the process of monitoring keywords and conversations that could be relevant to your school. Not everyone will actually mention or tag your official accounts. Responding to questions, complaints, and other prompts can help your university become and stay top of mind for potential students.
4) Student-Generated Video Content
Visual content is more important than ever, but the source of that content matters too. In addition to high-gloss videos that your marketing office puts out for your audience, consider adding some authenticity to the process through student-generated videos. Find student ambassador who can show their everyday lives in the dorms and academic buildings, than broadcast that content to a larger audience.
Within the same context, it also makes sense to leverage live video. Encourage your students and admissions officers to start live Q&A sessions, or simply to help digital audiences take part in life on campus from remote locations. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter now make streaming your own live video simple and straightforward.
5) Increased Texting Capabilities
Most higher education marketers now believe that texting is the future of admissions communication. One recent study, in fact, showed that texting is the preferred communication method of students today, above email, calling, and social media.
How are you leveraging this medium? You can use text messaging similar to email, broadcasting messages and sign-up prompts for events to all or a portion of your prospects. Another option is to allow your admissions counselors to use a centralized platform to send more customized emails on a personal basis, which leads to a higher rate of response.
6) A Highly Relevant Mobile Presence
We've already arrived in the mobile age. Today, teenagers spend significantly more time on mobile devices than on desktop computers or laptops. Your entire online experience needs to be designed for that fact in order to be successful.
That means building a responsive website with content that is equally as accessible and attractive on a 4 inch smartphone screen than it would be on a 20 inch desktop screen. It also means building a mobile app, which you can use to communicate important information, send push notification when needed, and more.
Mobile should be the vein that pulses through all of your recruitment efforts. For instance, the student-generated content should be accessible from mobile, your interactive maps and virtual tours should also be optimized for the same experience. The more relevant your mobile presence, the better.
7) Customized Landing Pages with Relevant Information
Finally, don't underestimate the power and importance of individual landing pages within your website. Sure, your homepage still matters. But it also attracts different types of students, alumni, members of the local community, and more. Remove as much friction as possible by building landing pages specifically connected to your audience's intentions and core goals.
A student researching intramural sports options will have very different expectations than a parent looking for more information about their kid studying math at your university. Each deserves its own landing page with relevant information, customized to these goals and built with visuals to remain attractive. Look for conversion opportunities to get students into your recruitment funnel through strategic sign-up forms for more information about a given topic.
Recruitment is becoming an increasingly complex undertaking. You have to get the technology right in order to succeed. Fortunately, these seven higher ed recruiting tools give you a great start in that arena. Integrate them into your larger admissions strategy, and your abilities to attract high school students to your college or university will increase dramatically.